Monday, March 22, 2010

"It's a Family Affair" Conference


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Jonesborough community gathers to reminisce at old Booker T. Washington


NET News Service

JONESBOROUGH — Walls were talking Friday afternoon at the old Booker T. Washington School as community members — many of whom attended the school when it was still open — gathered to reminisce and talk about the future of the building.

The hall of what once served as a school for Jonesborough’s African-American children was filled with community members, black and white, sharing stories about the school, its classrooms and the gymnasium. For most, Friday’s open house was the first time they had seen the inside of the once-beloved building in decades.
Community Performance Inc. has been working with Jonesborough, collecting the stories from its residents in an effort to document their lives and their history so the town can better tell its own s t o r y.
“We are the storytelling capital of the world,” Town Administrator Bob Browning told the crowd gathered around the old gymnasium’s stage. “We’ve done a lousy job of collecting our own stories. We do a lousy job of telling our story to other people.”
Jules Corriere of Community Performance Inc. stepped forward to share with the crowd some of the stories they have heard.
“Charles came in here the other day, and he started pointing out where he used to sit. He pointed to the window where sometimes when he was late his daddy would drive him up to school. He would drive him right by the side of the window. They would open the window, and his daddy would lift him and toss him through the wind o w. ”
Corriere went on to tell stories she heard of the older girls in the school leaving in the middle of classes to go to the kitchen to stir the soup.
“Everybody would bring a bowl and a cup and a spoon to school every day, and they would have their hot cocoa and their soup, and that’s what they would have for lunch every day. Can you imagine being in a classroom now and the girls would have to excuse themselves, ‘Sorry, I have to run to the cafeteria. I’m cooking lunch today.’ I thought that was amazing.”
Richard Geer, founder and artistic director of Community Performance Inc., said many of those stories were also accompanied by a disappointment with what the school has become.
“We also heard that now people who attended one time here turn their eyes away when they drive by because it hurts too much to see what it’s fallen to.”
Faces in the crowd nodded in agreement.
“A year from now when this place is beautiful once again we’ll hear these walls talk,” Geer said. “It won’t just be a play. It will be walking in here into a gallery, a dance, a film, a story that will bring this place alive again and the wisdom of this place alive again. We see, because we know the power of story in community ... that event as being a ripple in a pond that will move out through this community and help us once again be in touch with the wisdom that is here in this place, that’s here in our elders and that’s here in our young people too.”
The town has been working for some time to revive the now dilapidated building into a multi-use cultural arts center.
The facility, recently renamed the McKinney Center for the Arts at Booker T. Washington School, was renamed in honor of community leader and former principal at the school Ernest McKinney and his family.
McKinney passed away last year. His wife, Marion, and members of his family attended the open house.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lyons Chapel Choir Seminar


Free legal clinic scheduled for Saturday in JC

• JOHNSON CITY — The Washington County Bar Association will host a free legal clinic Saturday. March 6th, 2010 at Good Samaritan Ministries from 9 a.m. until noon. The clinic is staffed by volunteer attorneys and legal staff for financially challenged individuals and families who need legal assistance. For better service, appointments can be scheduled through Legal Services by calling 928-8311.